Smoking onscreen has constantly been under scrutiny by the censor board. And the product of this has been the gruesome ads that precede the movie and the ticker displayed onscreen during the consumption of tobacoo in the movie. According to a recent study by NGO Hriday in collaboration with Imperial College London, Bollywood viewers are exposed to a staggering 14 billion images of tobacco use on the big screen every year!
Monika Arora, who has co-authored the study, says that children often try to imitate their favourite superstars and smoking is no exception. “The popularity of Bollywood films and their outreach to a large Indian population, including children and adolescents, does highlight the need to regulate this exposure, to protect the young and vulnerable minds from being influenced by tobacco use shown onscreen” she added.
As of now tobacco consumption in movies has not influenced the ratings of the Bollywood films but government has made it mandatory for movies to warn their viewers about the dangers that smoking can cause. The study suggests that the government should take into consideration the use of tobacco in films and award ratings accordingly since there is no such law currently.
Bollywood has a “long history of portraying heroes and villains with cigarettes or hand-rolled bidis dangling from their lips.” According to a WHO study, tobacco is portrayed in 76% of Bollywood films, with cigarettes making up 72% of all the portrayals.